As the temperatures hover around the freezing mark, it's encouraging to note that baseball has already been played at Four Winds Field at Coveleski Stadium in downtown South Bend.
Notre Dame and others have played home games on the artificial surface.
The South Bend Silver Hawks are scheduled to open the 2014 Midwest League home season Tuesday, April 8.
It has been three years since Chicago businessman Andrew Berlin bought the franchise and infused cash into the ballpark and enthusiasm into the community.
The 2013 Silver Hawks drew 237,448 fans. The 1994 squad set the franchise attendance record at 258,424 and Berlin is hoping for 300,000 in 2014.
Berlin, speaking at a luncheon Monday, March 24, called the club "profitable" and said the enterprise is not only about making money, but improving the region.
He talks about the Silver Hawks in terms of being a "corporate citizen" and makes sure to be active with charities and other area organizations.
"It's bigger than writing a check," said Berlin. "We're sharing in the same commitment."
Berlin wants his staff, including general manager Joe Hart, to continue to make subtle improvements to the customer experience and make memories while making downtown South Bend an entertainment destination.
The 2013 Silver Hawks were Eastern Division champions with Mark Haley earning Midwest League manager of the year honors for a team that had 20 sellouts (13 more than in 2012).
The team has committed another $450,000 in capital improvements to the ballpark in 2014, including:
• A new stadium sound system;
• Rebranding of the Four Winds name;
• Installation of televisions at concession stands for close circuit TV of the games;
• A new point-of-sale system for concession stands to help with the speed of the lines;
• A new bronze statue of Stanley Coveleski at the center field entrance;
• Home locker room improvements;
• Addition of refrigeration and heating units for concessions;
• New furniture for the Upper Deck luxury suite area.
The Silver Hawks are projecting seven of the top 20 Arizona Diamondbacks prospects to start the 2014 season in South Bend.
The team plans more fireworks shows (16 of them) in 2014.
Season seat sales are up 35 percent from a year ago.
A celebrity series is scheduled to bring Steve Beuerlein, Tommy John, Jack Morris and Jose Canseco for appearances and autograph sessions.